Lima is a unique and impressive city situated high on the cliffs above the Costa Verde, but also a metropolis of contrasts. The blisteringly hot summers are offset against cold winters and the busy city center is juxtaposed with an uncountable number of parks. Known as the “garden city”, Miraflores is the one district that trumps all others, with numerous green spaces and unprecedented ocean views. Running through the center of the upmarket residential district, is a 6-mile long malecon that serves as a honey pot of activities and a place to escape the city.
Split into three sections, the malecon runs through 4 districts starting in the north as the Malecon de Marina, before joining the Malecon Cisneros and finishing as the Malecon de la Reserva in Barranco – this is Lima’s seafront and walkway where people come together.
But what is it that gravitates people towards this location, the connection with nature, the interaction between people, or maybe the sense of open space? The answer is all of the above and more, as regardless of your interests, age or walk of life, there is something for everyone.
1. Sports Fanatics
As the mist rises over the Costa Verde and engulfs Miraflores in a swirl of fog, the city stirs and the early morning cyclists take to the malecon in force. Followed closely in tow, another tribe of running fanatics appears who scurry along as they start their early morning exercise routine before the workday begins. The boardwalk transforms itself into an eclectic mix of keen sportsmen and women, accompanied by the ladies of Lima who like to power walk and talk. In the evenings the clay tennis courts come alive with fierce competition and an audible collection of grunting, as the locals jostle for an evening victory.
2. Mind, Body & Spirit
If action sports and adrenaline isn’t your thing, and you’d rather start your morning by harmonizing your body, mind and spirit and connect with your inner Zen, then there are plenty of early morning group classes available. Yoga gurus bend into seemingly impossible positions; tai chi experts gracefully flex their limbs in an artful movements and mediation masters breath deep to find their inner state of calm.
3. Adventure Junkies
For those looking for a quick fix of adrenaline, the Malecon Cisneros is home to a lively crew of paragliders, who take to the skies all year round providing there is good wind. For USD80 tourists and locals are whisked on a 10 minute 360-degree flight that offers unprecedented views of Lima’s city and coastline before landing in style in front of the hordes of spectators and passersby. If dangling several hundred meters in the sky doesn’t take you fancy, just around the corner lies the skate park, where hooded teenagers and a few seasoned pro’s cut shapes and show off their latest moves on rollerblades and BMX’s making for an impressive spectacle.
4. Kids & Family
There is plenty of fun for kids and families who head to Lima’s malecon. As a family friendly zone, it makes for a perfect spot to enjoy a weekend picnic and let the kids let loose to run around and play in the designated kids park that has climbing frames, slides and other obstacles. Alternatively, if you are feeling the spirit of adventure, then you can hire bikes, take to two wheels and cruise effortlessly along the cycle lane, as you take in the views and the ocean breeze.
If love is in the air, then a romantic sunset stroll to Lima’s Parque del Amor is sure to set the scene. Located just after the interconnecting bridge at the Malecon Balta, this small park is a central point for relaxation and romance, boasting stunning views over the bay of Lima. As with most Latin American parks you will struggle to find a park bench that isn’t already occupied by a couple wrapped in passionate embrace going for the world’s longest kiss. If you are lucky enough to find a spot, you can appreciate the artfully decorated mosaics park walls, beautiful flowers and central statue that culminates the essence of the park.
6. Art & History Boffins
For the art enthusiasts and historians among us, a wander along Lima’s malecon provides insight into the cultural past and present. Located near the Villena Bridge you can find for example the “Intihuatana” (sun anchor), designed by Fernando de Szyslo that pays respect to the ancient Inca culture that worshipped the sun. And just before crossing the Villena Rey Bridge, look out for the sculpture “Amarre” by Limeña artist Sonia Prager.
For a snippet into Lima’s nautical history, head towards the 22m-iron tower “La Marina Lighthouse”, which is set high up, proudly guarding Lima’s capital and coastline. It is one of the most famous, active and visited lighthouses in the country and was originally constructed in 1900 in Southern Peru, but in 1973 it was dismantled and reconstructed in Miraflores to commemorate the centuries of Peruvian navigation.
Fresh air and exercise is the perfect way to build up an appetite, and when in the culinary capital of Lima you can be sure that there are some excellent choices nearby. In summer months, ceviche and mariscos is a popular lunchtime option. A favorite joint with the locals, where queues often spill out onto the streets is Punta Sal. Here you can enjoy a refreshing Pisco Sour with some delicious local seafood favorites and a fresh ocean breeze that comes straight from the sea. Alternatively if you are returning from having watched a beautiful sunset and fancy a more formal and romantic dining setting you can head to El Senorío de Sulco for a traditional Peruvian style dinner.
As one of the few privileged cities in the world to be positioned on the coast, Lima has risen to the challenge to take advantage of this blessing. Evolving and catering to many different interests and age ranges, the malecon bring the best out of a multi-cultural city by providing a space where people can get together and enjoy the city in a sustainable and healthy fashion.